Running in the first of two qualifying heats, the product of Warrenton, Va., automatically moved on to her initial NCAA Outdoor final by finishing in the top four of her section. Her time of four minutes, 20.25 seconds was good for third place in heat one, and she stood as the 12th-fastest qualifier after a blazing second heat.
Sophomore Rose-Anne Galligan was not as fortunate, crossing the line eighth in the same heat as her teammate and winding up 17th overall in her first taste of NCAA Outdoor competition.
"I thought Sarah looked good today," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "Last year she didn't have a good opening round, so we saw her maturity come into play. Rose-Anne did not run a smart race, but she had a nice year for a freshman. We'll have to clean some things up for the future, as far as strategy and technique."
In UT's only other event today, freshman Lynne Layne bowed out in the semifinal round of the 200-meter dash. She ended up taking 15th place overall after finishing eighth in heat two in 23.40 seconds.
Layne had made the semifinals by virtue of a career-best-tying effort of 23.26 in the first round earlier in the day. That mark, which matched her SEC prelims effort, was fifth-best in heat two and 13th of the 18 athletes advancing to the next round.
"It was a good season for Lynne Layne," Clark said. "She ran a personal best in the prelims, and I am proud of what she has done this year."
On Friday, Tennessee will have competitors in three events. Junior Shanna Dickenson takes part in the hammer throw at 11 a.m Pacific Time (2 p.m. ET) and the discus throw at 3:15 p.m. PT (6:15 p.m. ET), while UT's 4x100m relay unit runs in the final at 4:40 p.m. PT (7:40 p.m. ET).
CSTV will televise live from Sacramento from 5:30-8:30 p.m PT (8:30-11:30 p.m. ET), with the 4x1 being an event that might be taped for the telecast.